Bloomberg video with added crickets would be 'Manipulated Media' under new Twitter rules

Bloomberg posted an unflattering portrait of his Democratic debate rivals.

February 21, 2020, 6:29 PM

The kind of edited video posted to Twitter by Mike Bloomberg on Thursday soon will be labeled "Manipulated Media" according to the social media company.

Video from Tuesday's Democratic debate was altered to paint Bloomberg's Democratic rivals in a bad light. Twitter confirmed that under new rules regarding manipulated media, which the company is putting into effect March 5, additional information would be added to give viewers context for what they're seeing.

The Twitter video featured a clip of the former New York City mayor saying, "I'm the only one here that's ever started a business. Is that fair?" On the night of the debate, there was a slight pause as he looked across the stage, and then continued to speak about his record. However, the edited video featured a 20-second clip of stitched-together shots showing the candidates hesitating and looking confused while crickets chirped in the background.

Twitter announced the new rules in early February. They pertain to synthetic content such as deep fakes, manipulated media or genuine photos or videos shared in a misleading manner. Twitter said Bloomberg's video would likely fall under manipulated video and require labeling. The policy does allow for tweets to be removed, but only if they're likely to have an impact on public safety or cause serious harm.

Guidelines released by Twitter in February
Twitter criteria for labeling or removing manipulated and synthetic media

"It's tongue-in-cheek. There were obviously no crickets on the debate stage," spokeswoman Galia Slayen said on Thursday in a statement to ABC News.

Of course, Bloomberg is not the first politician to tweet an edited video. On Friday morning, the president retweeted a video, posted by his social media manager, Dan Scavino, that features a manipulated clip of Bloomberg speaking about Donald Trump. The video shows a recurring loop of an old interview with Bloomberg in which he says, "I know Donald Trump, he's a great guy."

Scavino also posted a separate video Thursday showing Trump holding a small boy at a rally, with Bloomberg's face superimposed on the child's body. This video would likely get similar labeling from Twitter. It's worth noting, however, that Twitter said the new policies won't be applied retroactively.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that new Bloomberg video, with the crickets, does not violate its policy on manipulated media.

The video in the tweet below shows what the labeling may look like. Blue text saying "Manipulated Media" will appear under the video and users will then be able to click a drop-down arrow for more context.

Separately, screenshots were leaked on Thursday that show labeling that Twitter is exploring for other forms of disinformation.

Twitter has confirmed that these screenshots published Thursday show some of the options the company is working on for labeling misinformation.
Leaked screenshots of potential new labels for misinformation being tested by Twitter.
Obtained by ABC News

Twitter emphasized that although these are genuine screenshots, they are for a longer-term misinformation project separate from the labeling policy that will be implemented next month.

"We're exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for Tweets on Twitter," a company spokesperson told ABC News in a statement. "This is a design mock-up for one option that would involve community feedback."

According to Twitter, these designs are in the very early stages and there is not yet a specific timeline on when the new labeling or the final outputs from that project will debut.

Both Facebook and Twitter received widespread criticism in May 2019 for declining to remove an altered video of Nancy Pelosi that had been slowed down to make it appear she was slurring her words.

Earlier this month, Pelosi complained about another edited video tweeted by Trump that showed the House speaker tearing up the president's State of the Union script as Trump was lauding honorees in the gallery. Pelosi did tear up the script, but it was after Trump had finished speaking. Neither Twitter nor Facebook agreed to remove the video, as Pelosi requested.

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